According to a recent article in Quartz Media, accepting our darkest emotions is the key to psychological health, and that studies have shown that habitually accepting negative emotions was more likely to lead to elevated levels of well-being.
So is acceptance the key to a healthier life?
Osho is asked:
I worry that what I felt was acceptance of a situation may merely be consolation. How can I know when I have accepted something or when I have only consoled or distracted myself from the pain?
“It is simple. Consolation is out of thinking, explanations, theories; acceptance is out of understanding. When you explain yourself, you console. When you understand, then there is acceptance. Consolation has to be brought in; acceptance comes on its own. Acceptance is a happening; consolation is a doing.
“You are miserable; then you seek some theory to explain it – past life karmas; somewhere you try to find a shelter. Or maybe God is putting you in misery so that you can grow: it is a challenge to grow – a consolation. Or it is the nature of life; you philosophize, you say, ‘Everybody is in misery, and I cannot be the exception. Buddha says that all of life is misery – so it is. One has to accept it, what else can one do? One has to accept it.’ Then it is consolation. Then you try hard to create a buffer around yourself.
“Acceptance is out of understanding – it has no explanation. The misery is there. You look into the misery, and you don’t bring any theory, and you don’t bring any explanation; you simply look into the fact of misery, and looking into the fact of misery, suddenly, you find there is arising an acceptance. If somebody asks, ‘Why?’ you will not be able to answer because there is no why. You will not be able to show the cause. You will simply say, ‘It has happened.’
“Acceptance is like love – all that is really beautiful is always like love. When you fall in love with a woman or a man and somebody asks, ‘Why?’ can you really answer it? You try sometimes, but all your answers are absurd. You say, ‘Because the woman is beautiful,’ but there are millions of people, and they have not fallen in love with that woman. If she were beautiful she would not have been available to you – somebody else would have grabbed her before you. But nobody else thinks she is beautiful, so in fact, you are putting things upside down. You say, ‘I have fallen in love because she is beautiful.’ The real thing is just the opposite: she looks beautiful because you have fallen in love. One day, when love will disappear, the same woman will not look beautiful to you; she may even start looking ugly and horrible. Right now, you cannot leave her for a single moment. One day, when love has disappeared, you will not be able to tolerate her presence for a single moment.
“You cannot do anything about love. When it comes, it comes; when it goes, it goes. It is like a breeze: it comes, and it is gone. Acceptance is like love; it is a happening. When you are true, authentically with the reality of the moment, you don’t look to the past to find an explanation, you don’t look to the future to find an explanation; you simply look into the fact. You don’t ask Buddha, you don’t ask Krishna, you don’t ask Lieh Tzu, you don’t ask anybody; you simply look into the facticity of the misery. You simply live the pain, you simply go into it. Alone, holding nobody’s hand – Buddha’s, Krishna’s, Christ’s – you simply go into it. All those hands would become consolations; all those people would become explanations.
“You will say, ‘Jesus says this, Buddha says this, that’s why I have to accept.’ But that acceptance is pseudo: it has not arisen out of your own experience. Go into the pain of a situation single-handed, alone. Face the situation as it is, with no mind to explain it away. Just look into it without any thought interfering, and then there will be acceptance. It will not be a consolation; there will be great contentment. Suddenly you will see that you can accept, but there is no cause to it.
“Consolation has a cause to it. Consolation is a false coin – it deceives you, it pretends to be the real thing – it is not the real thing. And I would like to tell the questioner that it is very possible that whatsoever he was thinking to be acceptance must have been consolation, because if it were acceptance no doubt would arise. The certainty is self-evident: if it were acceptance, no confusion would be possible, no worry would arise. It must have been consolation because consolation is just on the surface; it never goes deep, and anything can shake it and shatter it.
“Drop all consolations – they are of no worth; they are just wasting time. It is better to suffer than to be consoled. It is better to be in pain than to be in consolation because through pain there is a possibility to reach to real acceptance. Through consolation there is no possibility; you have taken a wrong turn. Through consolation you never get to the reality; you have fallen victim to a dream. Now you will have to live in your consolation, and you will start being afraid of reality because everything of the real will be a shattering thing for your consolation. You will avoid, you will not see directly, you will escape from facts. If somebody brings you to the facts, you will start feeling very restless, you will start perspiring, you will feel nervous, because you will know that now everything is going to be shattered.
“Consolation is a belief. A created thing cannot be of much value. You have created it – it cannot be bigger than you, it is bound to be smaller than you. Acceptance is bigger than you – it happens. When does acceptance happen? It happens when you don’t cling to any consolation. So put all the consolations aside.
“It is hard. Tao is so pure that in the beginning it is very hard. You want to play with toys, and Tao never gives you any toys. It has no belief systems to supply; it simply forces you to encounter the reality, whatsoever it is. Painful? Then let it be painful; what can be done? Whatsoever it is; it has to be looked into. But through that very encounter arises a tremendously new consciousness; a new being is born.
“So please put aside all your consolations, all your theories and beliefs; they are hindering your path. Once you are nude, with no belief systems around you, once you are unburdened, then immediately a great trust happens: trust in life, trust in existence. And trust is not a belief. Trust is a total conversion. It is a new birth. It is a resurrection.”
Osho, Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol. 1, Talk #4